NYC Cedes Newly Upgraded Inwood Crosswalk to Placard-Abusing City Employees

The city is letting government parking placard holders sabotage its own street safety efforts.

DOT says it's up to NYPD to keep placard holders from parking in this crosswalk, where an NYPD placard-holder was parked Tuesday.
DOT says it's up to NYPD to keep placard holders from parking in this crosswalk, where an NYPD placard-holder was parked Tuesday.

Placard abusers will be given free rein to park in a recently created no-parking zone that’s supposed to improve pedestrian safety at an Inwood crossing.

DOT upgraded the unmarked crossing at Seaman Avenue and W. 214th Street, between Inwood Hill Park and Isham Park, over the summer. As part of the project, a curbside parking spot on the east side of Seaman was converted to a no standing zone to make people crossing the street more visible to motorists.

Naturally, city employees with parking placards soon began storing cars in the no standing zone. A Human Resources Administration staffer was directed to stop parking a city-owned vehicle there after Streetsblog brought attention to it. But that only cleared the way for other placard abusers to commandeer the space, like the driver of this SUV with a 44th Precinct placard, who was parked there shortly after dawn on Tuesday.

In practice, the placard system is less about facilitating government business than enabling government employees — or anyone with an NYPD hat or vest on their dashboard, for that matter — to ignore rules that are supposed to keep crosswalks, bus stops, delivery zones, and other areas clear of motor vehicles. Despite lip service from Mayor de Blasio about cracking down on placard abuse, a New York City parking permit remains a license to park virtually anywhere without fear of getting a ticket.

Image: DOT
How the improved crosswalk is supposed to work. Image: DOT

The situation at the Inwood crosswalk shows how the placard system is directly at odds with DOT safety projects. To speed up implementation, DOT often employs low-cost materials, like road markings, that placard holders know they can disregard with impunity. So rather than helping people cross the street without being hit by a driver, a daylighting zone becomes a de facto reserved parking spot for anyone with a placard.

Despite multiple documented incidents of illegal parking in the short time since the project was completed, DOT has no plans to fortify the new Seaman crosswalk with flex posts or other physical barriers to keep drivers out.

“The markings and signage clearly indicate no standing,” DOT told Streetsblog. “We are coordinating with NYPD, as this is an enforcement issue.”

Because getting police to discipline their own always works out.